Ethics in Emergency Situations

Emergency situations such as wildfires, natural disasters, illness, and unexpected personal crises occur when least expected.  While it is the hope that emergency situations will be infrequent occurrences, at times employees of the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) may find themselves working through an emergency situation or personally impacted by one.

Even in emergency situations, all ethics rules continue to apply to DOI employees and these rules can be difficult to navigate when faced with the challenges presented by emergency situations. The Departmental Ethics Office is available to assist employees as they work through potential ethics issues that can arise in emergency situations, whether conflicts of interest, impartiality, misuse of position, or gifts

The DEO has developed the following FAQs as a tool to help DOI employees comply with the ethics rules during emergency situations, particularly when offered gifts from non-Federal sources or other Federal employees.

Emergency Situations Ethics FAQs On Gifts For DOI Employees [pdf]

If during an emergency situation, you are concerned that your proposed course of action may violate the ethics statutes, the standards of ethical conduct, or DOI supplemental ethics regulations, then we recommend you refrain from taking action or accepting a gift until you can seek ethics guidance.

You can find contact information for ethics officials here.  Please reach out to an ethics official for guidance on any ethics questions.

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